Updated: Sep 18, 2019
Ever wonder why hiring a wedding DJ can seem like an expensive undertaking? Wonder no more - I'll tell you why.
Firstly, this article references the professional DJ who has had experience performing at weddings - which in and of itself is quite a unique event. With that being said let's look at what happens before the big day.
An experienced DJ has spent years honing their craft and thus able to command a respectable fee for their services. Their track record is filled with reviews and testimonials from past clients, confirming their ability to entertain the diverse crowd that most weddings host.
The Wedding DJ has a lot to do before each wedding - there are the client consultations, which may be face-to-face or by teleconference or even WhatsApp, which can total up to be quite significant in terms of hours spent preparing for each wedding.
Then there is the planning and preparation of the playlist for each wedding - ensuring the specific songs for each segment of the ceremony and/or reception is organized then saved and stored on more than one device.
If the DJ is working with a bride and groom who have requested the DJ play an out of the ordinary musical genre, then research is necessary. The DJ may need to download songs specific to the genre, then set cue points (this will be covered in a future blog post), then organize, in appropriately named folders and sub-folders, each track based on their flow or energy level and finally practice-practice-practice! A point to note is that the professional DJ purchases the music they play. They subscribe to one or more record pools which charge anywhere from US$20.00 to US$90.00 per month for the subscription service to download music.
Then there may need to be site visits to have a clear picture of where the DJ will be positioned. The DJ will need to identify where the dancefloor will be, where the electricity supply originates from and where the speakers will be positioned. This should ideally be done with other vendors but at the very least a member of the decor team should ideate their vision at the site. The professional DJ must account for this expense.
Which then takes us to the other key person to dialogue with on the wedding - the planner/decorator. In most cases this is a fairly simple discussion among professionals but if there are hurdles then more time may be spent overcoming them. See my blog post on the relationship between planner and DJ.
Whether the DJ owns or outsources the audio equipment, the cost associated with providing the sound reinforcement for a wedding will not come cheap. Quality equipment is expensive to own and maintain. The same is true for lighting equipment, which some DJs provide.
The type and quantity of equipment for each wedding will vary based mostly on the size and space of the venue and how many persons will be in attendance. Another factor which may affect the equipment employed is if there will be a live band and singer/s at the wedding.
This cost is affected by many variables such as distance and travel time to the wedding venue, amount of equipment being transported, toll charges, fuel, site visits (where applicable) and some even charge if there are stairs at the venue.
The DJ must depart for the venue with enough time to accommodate for any en route incidents. At Elevate Entertainment we schedule our departures so that we arrive at the venue no later than three (3) hours prior to start time.
Once at the venue, the DJ should confirm with the planner or property staff where they'll set-up. Most DJs will hire persons to assist with the set-up, which of course will affect his/her input cost. Set up time varies given the needs but can be anywhere from 90 minutes to 2 days for the more elaborate wedding.
So now the wedding reception was a hit and it's 1:00 a.m. and the guests are making their way home, but not the DJ and his crew. This is when the tear-down starts, which by the way is by far my least favourite time of any event. Thankfully it usually only takes about half the time as the set-up, after which the journey back to home base can begin.
Factoring all the inputs mentioned above (not exhaustive), their associated costs, the skill and experience of the DJ and the time involved with the planning and performance of each wedding, you can get a sense of how the DJ must price his/her service.